AS PREPARATORY work starts ahead of the main phase of the A31 Ringwood widening scheme next year more details have been announced.

Public information events are being held with more dates added due to high demand.

The project will see the two bridges on the westbound carriageway over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream replaced, with the westbound carriageway being widened from two lanes to three between the Ringwood and Verwood junctions as well as drainage improvements.  

Changes will also be made to improve facilities for walkers and cyclists.

The improvements 

  • Replacing and expanding the ageing bridges that carry the westbound carriageway over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream.
  • Constructing a new third lane on the westbound carriageway from the Ringwood roundabout to improve safety. Vehicles joining the A31 will have a dedicated lane rather than needing to merge with those already on the A31. This also aims to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
  • Expanding the Ringwood slip road from one to two lanes.
  • Upgrading the drainage to reduce the risk of flooding during heavy rain.
  • Closing access to the A31 from West Street and the Fish Inn car park.
  • Improving access for walkers and cyclists in and around Ringwood town centre.

Preparation work phases

The preparatory work, which started on Monday, will include drainage and kerb improvements along the A31 ahead of the contraflow system being put in place.

Three crossovers will also be built for the eastbound and westbound carriageway from mid September to mid-December in preparation for the contraflow.

National Highways project manager Daniel Kittredge said: "It is good to see it finally getting underway but it will really be the significant works early next year when we'll see how we will need to manage potential impacts."

The first phase of work which started on Monday will run until early October with two lanes closed on the eastbound carriageway and one on the westbound, overnight 8pm-6am, Monday to Friday.

As part of the second phase from late October to early December two lanes eastbound will be closed and there will be width reduction on one westbound lane.

Drainage upgrades and installing new signs is scheduled for early October to November with lane closures on the eastbound carriageway of the A31 and the access closed to the A31 from the Verwood eastbound slip roads, 24 hours day.

And from mid-November the slip road where traffic joins the westbound carriageway from the Ringwood roundabout will be closed. A diversion will be in place via Poulner Hill junction.

Main construction work 

The main construction work to replace the bridges and widen the westbound carriageway will start in January 2022 and will run until November 2022. A contraflow system will be in place.

The project aims to "reduce congestion, improve safety and provide a road suitable for the future". The impact on traffic during the work has been an area of concern for the community.

Bridge replacement
To demolish and rebuild the bridges which carry the westbound carriage a full westbound closure will be needed.
A contraflow system will be put in place to retain two lanes of westbound and eastbound traffic during construction. 

The construction work on one of the bridges over the River Avon has also had to take into account the migration and spawning route for Atlantic salmon, which are protected under regulations. 

This means any work on the bridges over the river must be completed between May 1 and October 31 to protect the salmon. 

If it is done outside of this period it would be a breach of the regulations protecting the salmon. 

Traffic management 

Mr Kittredge said: "The main element of the traffic management is the contraflow which maintains traffic on the A31. With regards to the local road network we are engaging with Hampshire County Council for them to provide us with a strategy to help manage some of the issues raised by local residents and Ringwood Town Council, mainly around the Poulner Hill, Hightown area."

"There will be a monitoring programme in place to look at the impacts. We appreciate that the project as a whole will have an impact while it's in place. What we would like people to remember is the end project will bring benefits," he added.

Public information events added

More dates have been added for these due to high demand. 

The additional dates for the public information events on Microsoft Teams are on Wednesday (September 22), September 29, 11am to 12.30pm and October 1, 2pm to 3.30pm. Email

For anyone unable to make the events the team will also be available for one to one telephone appointments using this email address.

Government investment 

The A31 at Ringwood forms part of the Government’s £15.2bn Road Investment Strategy to be delivered between 2020 to 2025.


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